Monday, July 30, 2012

Essex NYC

Way back in the spring, GMTT made her way into town. She selected Essex as the site for our reunion dinner. What an excellent selection! The group agreed that Oysters would be our first course.

These fresh bites were impressive when they arrived but even better once I ate them!  There were a couple of interesting items on the menu and they even made their way onto our table. The Potato Pancakes with homemade salmon gravlax, salmon caviar and sour cream was an interesting arrival.

I wasn't interested but it disappeared pretty quickly. The crisp potato pancake was surprisingly delicious with the salmon.  I couldn't resist the Scallops.

Four perfectly seared scallops over croutons, watermelon, roasted peaches and basil. Yum! I was a little hesitant because of the fruit, but the watermelon provided a juiciness that was quite refreshing. The croutons were crunchy goodness, but I could have done without the basil.  One of the better-looking dishes was the Grilled Shrimp & Avocado Salad.

The tail on shrimp was seasoned and grilled to perfection. The avocado salad and large slices of avocado were served on a bed of baby spinach.  The portion was just right for a starter and the avocado salad was my favorite part!  The Endive Salad didn't look quite as good.

Pecan and dried cranberries with Gorgonzola puffs and pear vinaigrette. Meh. I didn't eat it but Ms. P cleaned up the plate. I guess it's good, if you're into that type of thing.  The starter menu had a lot of appeal. G ordered the Chipotle baby lamb t-bone.

The lamb was cooked just right and tasted even better with the sauce.  The pear tasted good but I was not interested in the watercress.  I was a big fan of the Tilapia and Mango Ceviche!

The cubes of Tilapia were well flavored with cilantro and aji amarillo.  The big chunks of mango and avocado were splendid!  I ate way more than I should have but I savored each bite.   We eventually moved on to a few main dishes. The Papardelle was quite impressive.

Those huge fresh pieces of pasta were amazing. It tasted even better with the fresh seafood mix of shrimp, calamari and mussels.  I would definitely go back to try that.  I ordered the Cajun Spiced Catfish.

It was served over shrimp and potatoes.   Holy Deliciousness!  The fish was juicy and well spiced.  The shrimp and potatoes were spectacular.  I loved the blend of seafood and I'm a huge fan of potatoes.  Although my stomach was bulging at this point, but the meal had been so good I couldn't turn down dessert.

The Warm Chocolate cake with caramel and fresh fruit was the best way to close out the meal. We ordered a couple for the table and within a few minutes of them landing at our table, there was no evidence they ever existed.

This was a memorable meal thanks to the many dishes that provided satisfaction to my taste buds. There are a few dishes I'll definitely be revisiting. The meal was also incredibly affordable considering how much we ate.  Can't wait to go back!!

Hungry yet?

Essex on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Antoine's Restaurant New Orleans

During our tour the first day we were in New Orleans, we stopped at Antoine's Restaurant.  The restaurant has a rich history and is definitely worth reading about here.  The primary reason we decided to return for dinner is because they invented Oysters Rockefeller!!  It also helped that they're fancy - and you know how much I love fancy.  We sat in one of the many dining rooms and had two servers!  This time I think it's because they didn't want to forget us and it was a pretty busy night.

I reviewed the menu and knew I would be happy with whatever landed on our table.  I ordered the Escargots a la bourguignonne.  Surprisingly, one of our servers tried to convince me that I might not like it because it was "really traditional."  umm duh! Why do you think I ordered it?

The snails arrived as they should, covered in bourguignonne sauce. The mix of greens with butter and garlic was exactly what I hoped for!  Ms. O started with the Salad Antoine.

Five different greens and tomato. I think Muriel's looked better but Antoine is on to something with the five greens business.  Next up my Ecrevisses Cardinal arrived.

Crawfish tails in a white wine sauce with a hint of tomato. Yes, please!!  The crawfish tails were meaty and the sauce was perfect for dipping the delicious bread.  Ms. O's Gombo Creole was also quite good.

I was already feeling full so she had to convince me to take a spoonful of her gumbo, which was filled with blue crabs, oysters and gulf shrimp. One taste was all it took for me to go back for another and that time I got some rice too. Yum!  Even though at this point my stomach had expanded to close to maximum capacity, there was no way we were leaving without sampling the Oysters Rockefeller.

Five greens! You can guess what they are, but if you're right the waiter won't tell you.  Although there are a half dozen on the plate, some of these oysters were doubled up!  The greens were delicious and eating cooked oysters never tasted so good. After all that you would think we were finished. But a quick peek at the desert menu and we of course decided to indulge.

The Chocolate Mousse was just the right portion for sharing.  The rich chocolate was perfectly balanced with the whipped cream. I loved it!

Our experience at Antoine's was fantastic. We explored the restaurants numerous dining rooms after our meal. It's a beautiful space with lots of great history and definitely worth visiting. Eat at Antoine's! Your visit won't be complete without it!

Hungry yet?

Antoine's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 16, 2012

Red Fish Grill - New Orleans

When we arrived in New Orleans, we had no definite plans for dinner the second night. We had heard of Red Fish Grill but were not sure if we should go. Once we arrived, we saw ads all over the place and knew we had to go.  We had a pretty packed day and had already eaten a lot but oysters had not yet made it onto any of the many plates we had emptied.  Before Red Fish Grill, we stopped at Felix's for some excellent oysters. A great appetizer.

When we arrived at Red Fish we had a short wait which allowed us to explore and see the numerous articles on the wall as well as all the images of fish. The restaurant was a big open space with high ceilings and lots of tables packed in there. It definitely did not have the same classy feel as Muriel's, but hey what can you expect from a restaurant on Bourbon street. Thankfully the food was better than the decor. Ms. O skipped the salad and ordered the Tomato and Crab soup.

Oh what I wouldn't do to have another spoonful of that soup.  Spicy and sweet with chunks of crab.  The tomatoes were fresh and unlike some tomato soups I've had in the past, this didn't taste like marinara.  Ms. O also ordered the green onion shrimp toast with sweet soy sauce and chili garlic aioli.

Maybe it's because we were already satiated from eating the oysters, but the toast just didn't do it for me.  Thankfully my pan seared snapper arrived.

I was definitely loving the presentation.  The fish was surrounded by incredible spicy tomato sauce and duck fat new potatoes, topped with a dollop of lemon garlic aioli and sprinkled with crispy spinach.

Each bite was fantastic. The best part was definitely the spicy tomato sauce. It had a sweetness and spice that enhanced the flavor of the fish.

I was generally pleased with Red Fish Grill. The red snapper was the right choice. If I could just figure out a way to get an unlimited supply of the tomato and crab soup then all would be well.

Red Fish is worth your time, but I recommend going with an emptier stomach so you can fully enjoy the many items they have to offer.

Hungry yet?

Red Fish Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Muriel's Jackson Square

After spending several months looking forward to my escape from NY, I was psyched when Ms. O and I finally made it to New Orleans. It is definitely one of my favorite cities in the US. As Tennessee Williams said, "There are three great cities in the US, New York, San Francisco and New Orleans...everywhere else is just Cleveland."

We started with a tour that helped us get acquainted with some of the sites we would return to later during our trip. For dinner our first night, we decided to dine at Muriel's Jackson Square. We were greeted by the hostess and immediately escorted to our table. We had two servers. One person for drinks and another for our food. They take their drinks very seriously in NoLa!

We immediately encountered a problem because the menu had too many great choices!! We decided to order as much as we thought was reasonable. Our first dish was the Creole Tomato and Crab.

The display was enough to make me melt a little bit. We were there during the height of the Creole Tomato festival. These were some special tomatoes. It was like heirloom infused with an extra level of sweetness and freshness. The jumbo crabmeat was mixed with avocado and tossed in a tarragon tartar sauce. The tartar sauce initially threw me off because it was creamy and reminded me of mayonnaise.  The dish was well balanced but definitely a little rich, which isn't surprising when you mix crab with avocado.  Of course Ms. O ordered a salad.

The romaine lettuce tossed with a roasted garlic and Parmesan dressing with shaved red onions and herb croutons was inoffensive. It looked good but I refuse to acknowledge salad as a part of my meal, especially when Escargot is an option.

The Escargots Orleans was phenomenal.  The tender escargot with fennel, leeks, and oyster mushrooms simmered in a roasted garlic butter were served in a flaky vol-au-vent shell. Definitely melt in your mouth goodness. The contrast of the buttery snail and the flaky crust made every bite perfect.  As though the appetizers were not rich enough, we went for the gold with our entrĂ©es.  Ms. O ordered the pan seared maple leaf duck breast. 

Any one who has read my duck related entries knows how weak my knees get when duck lands on the table. This dish was a double dose because it was served with duck confit dirty rice, leeks and baby carrots with a blackberry gastrique. Holy Moley!! 

The duck confit dirty rice was the most spectacular rice I have ever eaten. I fully intend on recreating this masterpiece.  I had a little bit of food envy but that was quickly dismissed when my Blackened Redfish arrived. 

The large filet of fish was a bit intimidating.  It was perfectly seasoned but I especially loved the peppery Louisiana Crab stuffing. The stuffing was moist but not watery. The best bite was the combination of the fish and stuffing swirled in the accompanying Blue Crab butter sauce.

Muriel's you wowed me in a way that I will never forget. I genuinely enjoyed every bite on every plate. My only regret was my inability to finish my entrĂ©e.  I will definitely be back next time I'm in New Orleans!!

Hungry yet?

Muriel's Jackson Square on Urbanspoon